Flemings (religion)

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Priestly procession on a relief of the Ara Pacis , in the middle the Flamines maiores with the Flemish Divi Iulii

A Flemish (plural: flamines ) was the individual and sacrificial priest of a certain deity in the ancient Roman religion . The task of the flamines was to honor the god or goddess assigned to them through formalized cultic acts such as making libations . Compared to the questioning and atonement rituals carried out by magistrates and sign interpreters , the cult activities of the flamines had little political weight.


The origin of the term flamen is unclear. Varro led the word of wool yarn or woolen belt ago, is part of the Apex , the ritual headgear of the priests was so of filum ( "thread") to filamen / flamen .

Georges Dumézil put the word in relation to Brahman , the name of the Indian priests. Other derivations are from the Indo-European * flad (s) men and from it Gothic blotan ("to worship").

Flamines maiores and minores

The three great Flamines (flamines maiores) had been responsible for the cult of the gods Jupiter ( Flamen Dialis ), Mars ( Flamen Martialis ) and Quirinus ( Flamen Quirinalis ) since early Roman times . They joined them at the beginning of the Principate of the Flemings for Gaius Iulius Caesar ( Flamen Divi Iulii ), who was elevated to god as Divus Iulius .

There were also twelve flamines minores for other gods, not all of which are known:

  • Flamen Furrinalis (Priest of Furrina )
  • Flemish Carmentalis (Priest of Carmenta )
  • Flemish Volcanalis (Priest of Vulcanus )
  • Flamen Cerealis (Priest of Ceres )
  • Flemish Portunalis (Priest of Portunus )
  • Flamen Volturnalis (Priest of Volturnus )
  • Flemings Palatualis (Priests of the Palatua )
  • Flamen Floralis (Priest of Flora )
  • Flemish Falacer (probably in connection with the Sabine town Falacrinae)
  • Flemish Pomonalis (Priest of Pomona )
  • Flaming of a deity not handed down (perhaps Lucularis )
  • Flaming of a deity that has not been handed down (perhaps Virbialis ).
Flemings with Galerus

All flamines belonged to and were supervised by the college of pontifices . With regard to their respective deities, however, they were different from the haruspices , augures and quindecimviri sacris faciundis as individual priests assigned to the respective god or temple and thus not organized in a collegial manner. The appointment as priest was for life; the Flemish Dialis had to resign when his wife died. The flamines maiores had to come from the patriciate , the flamines minores were plebeians or, in the imperial era, equites . For all flamines maiores the rule was that they had to be children of parents who had been married according to the rite of confarreatio . The designated flamines maiores themselves had to be married according to this ancient rite. A Flemish wife was known as Flaminica .

Unlike z. B. In the Indian caste society, the Roman priests were not a group of people separated from the rest of society. The mass of Roman citizens could become priests - whether Flemish or pontifex . De facto , however, the candidate had to have sufficient political weight - that is, belong to or be close to the influential senatorial genders - in order to receive a corresponding post. The flamines were appointed by the pontifex maximus , while the remaining priesthoods co-opted to replenish their nominal strength as needed.

With the apotheosis of Divus Augustus under Emperor Tiberius , a Flemish was established for each of the deified members of the imperial house ( divi ) after their death, the flamines divorum . The original flamen Divi Iulii , the priest of the idolized Iulius Caesar, also belonged to the flamines maiores and, due to the privileges of the priesthood, was comparable to the flamen Dialis , but had extensive political freedom. There were also flamines in the College of the Arval Brothers and in some cities of the empire.

The life of the Flamines was subject to strict ritual regulations, which were particularly restrictive for the Flemish Dialis . For example, he always had to wear the ritual headgear consisting of galerus and apex in the open air , the other flamines only had to wear it for ritual acts.


Web links

Commons : Flemings  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jochen Bleicken: The constitution of the Roman Republic . 8th edition. Schöningh, Paderborn 2008, ISBN 978-3-8252-0460-0 , pp. 174-175.
  2. Varro, De lingua latina 5,84. See also Festus , De verborum significatione , sv Flamen Dialis , and Dionysius of Halicarnassus , Antiquitates Romanae 6,24.
  3. ^ Georges Dumézil: Flemings - Brahman. Geuthner, Paris 1935.
  4. ^ Walter Pötscher: Flamen Dialis . In: Mnemosyne , Fourth Series, Vol. 21, 2/3 (1968), p. 215.
  5. ^ Aulus Gellius , Noctes Atticae 10, 15, 22 : Uxorem si amisit, flamonio decedit.
  6. Jochen Bleicken: The constitution of the Roman Republic . 8th edition. Schöningh, Paderborn 2008, ISBN 978-3-8252-0460-0 , pp. 175-176.